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Fondly remembering our dear friend, Gladys Byrd

Modified: Thursday, May 2nd, 2013


To put into words what Gladys Byrd meant to me, and this community as a whole, is a daunting if not insurmountable task. Gladys was like an angel to me. That is what I believe. A gracious lady with angelic qualities.

Gladys was beloved by so many in our community as well as other Arizona communities and people across the United States and world-wide equally.

Gladys Byrd was a true friend. She was a great friend! She was also the wonderful mother of six awesome children and scores of awesome grand and great-grandchildren.

Gladys was so many things to so many grateful people who loved her dearly. Sadly, her beloved son Monty Joe Byrd preceded her in passing, a tragic loss to all.

Gladys was an ambassador of good will. Benevolent and magnanimous, her tidings of love were tangible and with far reaching awareness.

Gladys sang the songs of country legends Patsy Cline, Tammy Wynette and Linda Ronstadt with fluid translation, remarkable grace and a genuine easy nature. She was completely real. This down-to-earth honesty came through loud and clear in her interpretations of the songs she loved.

Gladys was quick and refreshingly catchy with a staggering repertoire of classic songs that resonated with young and old alike, with native and foreign music lovers, with fans of rock and roll and connoisseurs of country, western and folk music alike. Her music transcended barriers, bridged gaps and brought people closer together always for the better and for a general sense of camaraderie.

Not only could Gladys deliver impeccable renditions of popular tunes, she also penned countless original compositions with beauty and thoughtful truthfulness.

Throughout her life, the warmth and love of Gladys touched so many lives that will forever be changed for the better because of her splendid contributions.

One fine example of this is how Gladys taught Sunday school to the many generations of children who she cherished throughout her life. Precious young lives that she forever changed for the better.

Another example would be the untold multitudes of visitors and tourists who adoringly witnessed the magic of her stage performances. The personal one-on-one greetings of her hospitality. The signature warmth and embrace of her universal affection.

Still yet another example would be where I came to know and love Gladys. I, too, count myself lucky being one of the literally thousands of grateful musicians fortunate enough to have worked and performed music with Gladys, singing together her special songs along with her excellent guitarist, the late, great Rick Vail.

Gladys Byrd had for countless years lived and shined as a local musical legend. Hers’ is a stellar legacy that will continue on. There can be no doubt her story will live on and on as rich and pure as her memory in the hearts and minds of those whose lives she touched so indelibly and profoundly.

Personally, if I may be so bold, Gladys touched my musical sensibilities when on a whim I would request a couple of country tunes which I knew from experience she rendered so flawlessly. Always, without fail, she would oblige me with earnest enthusiasm. Those particular tunes by name being “Crazy” the Willie Nelson song sung by Patsy Cline and “Stand by Your Man” by Tammy Wynette. As always, her renditions were heart warming and impeccable.

Gladys Byrd touched my life profoundly. I thank her. She is in my heart and there she remains with all her love and glory.

All my respect, fondly,

Ronnie Paul

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